Assisting Tech Startups Growth Through Coworking Spaces

[This is a sponsored article with MDEC.]

Coworking spaces have become hotbeds of technological innovation and a launching pad for many budding startups.

With increasing demand for more flexible and customizable work options during the pandemic, this vertical faces stiff competition to offer the right support or to meet the needs of its clients.

As a result, coworking spaces also need to evolve and they play an important role as ecosystem enablers to propel the growth of tech companies.

To help coworking spaces further foster technological innovation, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched the Malaysia Digital Hub (MDH) initiative in 2017 to transform coworking spaces.

Since its inception, MDEC has 20 recognized and certified coworking spaces as MDH, serving nearly 600 companies at the local level, fostering innovation and collaboration. The MDHs currently certified in Malaysia are Sunway iLabs, Common Ground, Dojo KL, Selangor Digital Creative Center (SDCC), WORQ, Found8 and UnionSPACE.

More than a space

A digital hub in Malaysia offers startups the opportunity for global expansion through instant access to high-speed and fiber-optic connectivity, funding and facilitation opportunities, and a tech-driven, workforce-ready ecosystem. of work.

While an MDH encourages the participation of all forms of tech startups, it mainly focuses on four categories: Supercharging tech startups through growth programs and initiatives, as well as providing access to talented creators and to investors.

But before a coworking space can be recognized as MDH under MDEC, it will have to meet these criteria.


  1. Equipped with high speed broadband,
  2. Foster a community of startups in their space,
  3. Connected to the main technological pillars of the Internet economy which has a regional / global presence,
  4. In partnership with a talent creator and have a coaching / mentoring network,
  5. Offer funding facilitation opportunities to startups,
  6. Have modern and accessible equipment to allow startups to meet and network.

These standards have been established by MDEC to ensure that essential support is within reach of hub startups to accelerate their development.

“The Malaysia Digital Hub initiative was inspired by the ecosystem existing in Silicon Valley. While we understand that we may not be able to recreate Silicon Valley, we can recreate the thinking behind it and integrate the essential elements that make the ecosystem so vibrant and effective. ”

Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of MDEC’s Global Growth Acceleration Division

To better understand how this support translates into real applications, we spoke to some of the MDH members to get better insight into how they can benefit startups.

A landing for global talent

Malaysia is poised to be a hub for top tech talent. Thanks to MDH, startups from foreign countries could also seek to position themselves in the Malaysian market through the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Pass (MTEP) program.

With the combination of MTEP and MDH, Malaysia can be your home to propel your tech startup into the global limelight with Malaysia as the base of operations.

Through MTEP, founders can capture the ASEAN market from Malaysia through a one-year or five-year stay in the country. And through MDH, hubs can help unlock opportunities and incentives for tech entrepreneurs.

An MTEP conference held at the Dojo KL / Image Credit: Dojo KL

Dewan Ng, the founder of Dojo KL, said that programs like MTEP have been very beneficial for startups. “With the contact with MDEC, it’s good for startups to build in Malaysia. The MTEP program speeds up the visa process and makes the process clear and easy for businesses to obtain their visa. “

Easy access and connection to funding partners

Obtaining funding is often an exhausting process for the startups involved, especially if you don’t have a head start. It’s even more difficult now because of the epidemic. Startups are unable to network and meet potential investors as before.

Thanks to certified MDHs, MDEC ensures that coworking spaces are connected to a financial partner, and this helps to facilitate the startup’s call for investment.

For example, VentureGrab, a business matchmaking platform, credited MDH and SITEC of MDEC for their success. Earlier this year, VentureGrab successfully raised RM500,000 through the MyStartr platform, an equity crowdfunding platform in partnership with SITEC and MDH.

A group photo of one of the previous Selangor acceleration programs by SITEC / Image Credit: SITEC

JomRun, an app for people aspiring to live an active lifestyle, also credited MDH and Sunway iLabs in their growth. Thanks to Sunway iLabs Accelerator Program, JomRun became one of the finalists who won a cash prize of RM25,000.

They were also put in touch with one of their financial partners, NEXEA Angels, during the process.

JomRun founder Chang Yi Hern said, “This investment was the stimulus we needed to propel our business to penetrate other Southeast Asian markets and become Malaysia’s largest sports portal. “

Connecting the Malaysian startup community

During Malaysia Tech Month, if you managed to see JF Gauthier’s presentation, he underlined increase connectivity among startups as a key element in the creation of global startups.

Bridging the gap between startups is a key element in which MDH specializes.

Mecapan, a startup founded in Indonesia, set foot in Malaysia 2 years ago after receiving their MTEP. Since then, Mecapan has decided to make Malaysia its engineering center and now operates from WORQ.

WORQ’s expansive warm workspaces / Image credit: WORQ

“WORQ provided a great community for the Founders to interact and discuss, whether from chance encounters or their ‘bonfire’ sessions. It was useful for us to learn based on analysis, criticism and suggestions from others, ”said Adrian Wisaksana, Technical Director of Mecapan.

However, if we are talking about pure reach in SEA, few coworking spaces can stand one-on-one with Common Ground. Debra, Common Ground’s marketing manager, said it hosts more than 7,000 members in its 22 locations in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Common Ground Eco City / Image credit: Common Ground

An MDH must be able to play on its own strengths and offer attractive offers to emerging technology startups.

In a recent report from Startup Genome, Kuala Lumpur is recognized as the 11th ecosystem of emerging startups in the world, which means Malaysia is moving in the right direction to foster startups.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a local startup or a foreign SME looking to venture out and integrate into Malaysia’s ever-expanding digital ecosystem, these MDHs will give you the support and boost you need to make your business be well equipped to succeed.

Malaysia is moving towards Malaysia 5.0, a more human-centered approach, and becomes the ‘At the heart of digital ASEAN“. The role of the MDEC in this regard is to equip Malaysians with digital skills, enable digitally driven businesses and stimulate digital investments.

  • For more information on MDH, click on here.
  • For more information on MDEC, click here.

Featured Image Credit: WORQ, Common Ground

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Jothi Venkat

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